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Grafham Grand Prix at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Andy Rice 3 Jan 2012 18:48 GMT 2 January 2012

SailJuice Global Warm-Up 2012

Sunny skies, mild temperatures and moderate winds attracted the best turnout in years to the Grafham Grand Prix on 2 January. With 166 boats spread across four dinghy fleets and a small entry of catamarans, a number of high profile sailors turned out for the 31st edition of the regatta, which is also the opener for the five-regatta SailJuice Global Warm-Up 2012.

Newly returned from the ISAF Worlds in Perth, Australia, local 470 star Ben Saxton set a blistering pace in the RS200 with his crew Catherine Alton to win both races in the Slow Handicap division of 38 entries. Similarly consistent were Steve and Joanne Sallis with two 2nds in their National 12, while two 3rds gave third spot to last year’s Grand Prix winners Dave Lucas and Mark Longstaff, who came out on top of a strong Flying 15 entry.

In the 59-strong Singlehanded fleet, Ian Morgan took advantage of the Great Lakes PY adjustment to the Laser class to score two bullets ahead of Andrew Wilde, who improved from last year’s 5th place to come 2nd in the Phantom, ahead of Richard LeMare’s RS300.

In the Medium Handicap fleet with 24 boats, Sam Mettam and national champion crew Richard Anderton took their Fireball home in first place, doing enough to beat the 505 of Tim Rush and Sam Pascoe who won the second race of the day. Dave Hall and Paul Constable have raced Fireballs together on and off for more than 20 years and a 3rd place showed this veteran partnership remain competitive as ever. Just behind them, former B14 World Champion Tim Fells and Chris Downham emerged top of a very tight tussle in the Merlin Rocket fleet.

Another World Champion who has jumped ship is reigning Musto Skiff World Champ Dan Henderson, now campaigning a 49er. Crewed by George Hand, Henderson notched up two bullets in Fast Asymmetric, ahead of Callum Ellis and Will Harris in a 29er. Mark Barnes and Dan Hare were 3rd in their B14.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner and overall champion in the 2011 SailJuice Global Warm-Up, Andrew Peake, has moved on from his Musto Skiff and entered his first big race in the RS800. For his crew, Stephanie Brimacombe, this was only her 9th time in a dinghy yet they finished in 6th place, just one behind leading RS800 sailed by RS200/400 National Champion Dave Hivey and James Barlow. Mark Aldridge won the Sprint 15 catamaran division with two victories.

Event organiser Dave Philpott was delighted with the high entry numbers and the bigger turnout of Lasers in particular. “It was interesting to see the increase in Laser entries, well above previous years, and one winning for a change,” he said. Ian Morgan finds himself in pole position for winning a brand new Laser sail, one of many prizes on offer for competitors in the SailJuice Global Warm-Up.

Full results from the Grafham Grand Prix can be found here.

The next event in the SailJuice Series takes place this Saturday, 7 January 2012, with the pursuit race classic near Heathrow Airport, the Bloody Mary.

Enter the Series here.

About the SailJuice Global Warm-Up

This winter championship brings together five of the biggest winter handicap racing events into a unified series, to find out just who is tough enough to race their way through a British winter. Over the past two years this Series has seen some of the biggest names in dinghy racing compete in a range of classes.

Five major handicap events constitute this winter's series. They are:

Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
Monday 2nd January 2012

Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
Saturday 7th January 2012

Steve Nicholson Trophy, Northampton Sailing Club
Saturday 28 January 2012

John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th February 2012

Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February 2012

For the first time, each of the events is using a set of PY handicap numbers based on the analysis provided by the Great Lakes Group. This group of experts has analysed the results of past grand prix events and produced a set of numbers that should yield a much more even spread of success across a greater number of classes. The success of this approach has already been proven at recent editions of the Bloody Mary.

SailJuice.com has once again teamed up with SailRacer.co.uk to provide an online entry system. This enables competitors to enter four of the five events in advance. To enter the Series, all you need to do is sign up for at least one of the events online. This costs exactly the same as entering on the day, but saves you the hassle, and means you qualify for the Series and give yourself a shot at the prizes.

With each event run on a different format, SailRacer has also devised a scoring system to balance up the relative value of each event, whether you're competing in one massed fleet such as at the Draycote Dash, Bloody Mary and Tiger Trophy, or in smaller divisions such as at the Grafham Grand Prix and Steve Nicholson Trophy. This scoring formula was used successfully in last year’s series, won by Andy Peake in a Musto Skiff.

There are some big incentives on offer, to be distributed to the winner, the runners-up and other competitors randomly drawn from further down the fleet. Prizes are being provided by; Laser Performance, Rooster Sailing, Holt, Hyde Sails, Ovington Boats, RS Sailing, Yachts & Yachting, SailJuice.com.

Prizes will be awarded at the RYA Volvo Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace on the weekend of 3/4 March 2012.

Enter the Series here.

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